Widgets Magazine

Board of trustees approves initial plans for new Roble gym

The Stanford board of trustees gave concept approval for a new 75,000-square-foot recreation center to be built on the west end of Roble Field at its December meeting.

Construction for the project, estimated to cost around $30 million, will be funded entirely by a group of major donors, which currently includes John Arrillaga ’60 and the Avery family, among others.

The newly approved plans for a recreational and fitness center on Roble field will include basketball courts, a fitness center, climbing wall and a new 50-meter outdoor pool. (PHOTO STAFF/ THE STANFORD DAILY)

The University will foot the bill for development and pay daily operational costs.

Those involved with the project say the facility will fill a void for indoor recreational areas on the west side of campus.

“The campus map speaks to the situation,” project manager Mark Bonino wrote in an e-mail to The Daily. “Most of the recreation and fitness facilities are located around the Athletics zone in the East part of the campus while the West part of campus has few fitness facilities outside of Tresidder, West Campus tennis courts, and outdoor fields at Roble and Sand Hill.”

Roble Gymnasium used to satisfy this need: it contained a basketball court, locker rooms, ping-pong tables and a cycling area.

But when the dance division needed more space, much of the gym’s equipment was packed up and moved over to the Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation, located on the east side of campus, which opened its doors in February 2006.

“We kind of lost a foothold for recreational activity,” deputy director of athletics Ray Purpur said, “and we’ve had a lot of comments and a lot of feedback over the five years that there’s just no indoor recreation areas on that side of campus.”

The building’s location has also been chosen to account for future University expansion. According to the University’s master plan, there will be future development of residential halls on that side of campus.

“With campus development heading west,” Bonino said, “there’s an increasing demand for these facilities.”

And while a general lack of funding and limitations under Stanford’s General Use Permit have posed obstacles in the past, the financial support of donors — as well as new University-wide initiatives emphasizing fitness and wellness — have finally made the project a reality.

The center will include basketball courts, fitness and recreation studios, a rock-climbing wall and a new outdoor 50-meter swimming pool. In coming up with the design of the facility, Purpur said they looked at feedback left on comment cards at existing campus recreation centers to get input from students.

“One of our common feedbacks is that the rock-climbing wall [at Arrillaga] is very inadequate,” Purpur said. “So we are going to be putting in a new rock-climbing wall in the new building.”

The facility will not only be the same size as the current Arrillaga Center. It will also look the same.

“We love the look of that building,” Purpur said, “so we are going to copy it.”

The difference, Bonino said, will be on the inside.

“There will be more studio space to house a variety of different wellness and fitness programs, and of course, the swimming pool provides water fitness to match the recreation pool at the Avery Aquatics Center,” Bonino said, “and we will have lockers and showers, which are not present in the Arrillaga Center.”

To make room for construction, an existing swimming pool by Roble Field and a group of temporary buildings will be removed, and the locker rooms behind the pool will be converted into another space.

However, there are no plans to alter any existing campus recreation centers.

The Department of Athletics will monitor the usage of the gym at Tresidder Union to see if attendance decreases as a result. If this is the case, the gym may be removed, but Purpur does not expect this to be the case.

“I think they’ll augment each other,” Purpur said.

This week, the Department of Land, Buildings & Real Estate plans on submitting its first entitlements for architecture and site approval. Within the next couple of months, building permits will be submitted as well.

While no timeline has been set yet, construction is anticipated to begin in the summer of 2011 with completion estimated by late 2012.

“I think this will bring a new destination to the community,” Purpur said. “It will be a recreation destination where you can jog, swim and take a shower after you work out on that side of campus.”

  • :(

    Roble Field is a beautiful and peaceful place to play outside. Arrillaga gym is not even a mile’s walk or bicycle ride from Roble. Are humans condemned always to trade tranquility for a bit of perceived convenience?

  • Dancer

    All this and Stanford can’t support the arts enough to remodel the Roble dance studios right next door? Seriously?

  • partied with arrillaga

    Stanford either failed to see the developing income gap or helped promote it, with the result that many people connected to the university have more money than they can spend. Tragically, they give this money to Stanford, and the result is the increasingly hideous campus. Maybe this started with Arrillaga being allowed to put a memorial (in execrable taste) to his wife right next to the church. His wife would have been unknown except for her marriage to a man who did something that he could hardly have helped making money at, something his Stanford education had nothing to do with. And why would “we” have allowed a memorial to one person, whoever that person was, in that spot? Things have just gone on from there, with endless construction, one of the things most damaging to the environment; all the while Stanford talks about its commitment to sustainability, achieving that at the expense of ordinary people in the community. It’s a terrible shame that there is nothing we can do, even now when so many people are barely managing to survive, to find another way to relieve the too rich of the burden their money imposes on them and the awful damage that money is doing here.

  • john

    To the post above: Wouldn’t you resent it, if someone told you how to spend your money? I, for one, am grateful the funds are being donated to build the new gym. Thank you to those who donated so this gym can become a reality.

  • Jennifer

    I wholeheartedly agree with John. Why should anyone challenge the way another person spends their OWN money. That’s senseless. Even though I’ll already have graduated by the time the gym is built, I think its a great idea to balance out the rec centers on both sides of campus.

  • :(

    “Why should anyone challenge the way another person spends their OWN money.”

    Money is used to change the world. Change affects everyone. A person who is affected by a change has the right to challenge it.

  • Stan

    When was the Roble pool moved to the west end of Roble Field?

  • partied with arrillaga

    John and Jennifer, right you are, people should certainly have the right to spend their money just as they want to, and all’s well here, because Stanford is getting the pay back it should get for inadequately and improperly educating its future donors (Charlie Munger wasn’t educated here but his daughter who spent time on the BOT was).

  • stanford

    to the above poster. Why do you care where the money comes from? Seriously, do you not want Stanford to continue to develop and improve? Without constant innovation and change, Stanford will gradually fall behind. We have a beautiful campus with great facilities because of generous alumni like Arrillaga. Whether there money came because of their stanford education or not, I am very thankful for their generous support.

  • partied with arrillaga

    Stanford, I don’t care where money came from and I agree that people should spend their money any way they want to. Whether Stanford needs to develop and improve, whether there needs to be constant innovation and change, whether we have a beautiful campus… these things could be and should be discussed.

  • Senior

    man, of course they would do this as i graduate….

  • Val

    They should put up a comment box for the users of the field: Frisbee players, sunbathers, soccer games… I highly doubt they comments would read “we’d rather have this awesome place paved over with monstrous buildings”

    Shame on you, Board of Trustees. The Stanford Community employs you to protect the legacy of Stanford. I think a more sustainable development would give higher value to open space, even if it is synthetic like a lawn. Also, running around outside has to be healthier for the body and soul than working out on a stair master or bench press.

  • observation

    The argument in the article seems to be that the west side of campus doesn’t have immediate access to an indoor recreation center. But one could also argue that Roble Field is the only field immediately accessible to west-campus students. On the east campus are the two parts of the Manzanita fields and the large field by Stern and Wilbur. On the west side of campus is the green space near governor’s corner and Roble field. (I don’t count Lake Lag because one cannot really play soccer, say, in the dry bed of the lake. I also don’t count the Oval or the Sand Hill field because neither is near residential buildings, which seems to be important to the argument.) Take away Roble Field, and all that’s left is the governor’s corner space.

    Why not renovate the Tres Union gym if there is really a need for more indoor — in the beautiful Bay area! — exercise equipment?

  • partied with arrillaga

    Some good comments, good arguments. You who want things to stay the same should keep trying despite all the evidence that Stanford can’t say no to donors who can’t stop giving.